Because ghosts are dangerous things to keep inside my hollow stomach. To keep them from prodding around in there I drink fennel tea and refrain from cheese.
You are especially curious about my gallbladder. When I shift around, I feel you tossing from side to side. Talisman, basketball, that ball-in-a-maze puzzle I cannot solve.
You are all I eat in the morning because I’d rather not drink Ensure. And when I go to sleep, you and your friends rise up in my throat like bile. That’s a tease, you, that’s funny. Faking sourness to get what you want, which is to bother me.
When the water shut off in our apartment Monday, I waited for it to come back on. But I dreaded what it would look like because it is always so dirty when it returns.
Most new things are ugly. They need to be broken in. Most new things smell like rubber or chemical or plastic. You liked the smell of plastic because your father worked in a toothbrush factory. You liked plastic water bottles left out in the sun. Burnt CD cases I put too close to the fireplace. The handle of a microwaved takeout spoon. That is one of the oddest things you told me about yourself. One of the eccentricities that made you my favourite ghost. When I first met you, you smelled like bacon, which I do not eat.
I recoiled when you touched me.
Then you started to smell like fabric softener. Down at the laundromat, I stood by the machine and saw you swimming, fully clothed but shoeless. Dancing at home, rolled up in the carpet I clean once a month while thinking about it’s oldness. Sniffing up the carpet cleaner, my guilty pleasure, my eccentricity. My mother’s carpet, then my father’s carpet, then mine. Twenty years and it is ruined in three places and it smells numb. Numbness is that plastic emotion I feel when you enter my esophagus. I never told my mother I almost swallowed LEGO. I was not scared then or now. Even when your toes catch on entering my trachea, I don’t make a move.
Maybe you are not dead. Maybe you are just resting, like the pipes, lying dormant until I really call on you. On Tuesday the water returns, awakening slowly and breaking the newness in.
I will never recoil again.
Hadiyyah Kuma is from Toronto, Ontario and no longer enjoys horror films. Her work has been featured in the Jellyfish Review, the Hart House Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Acta Victoriana. Find Hadiyyah on Instagram @hadiyyahaha, but please be aware that it is not as funny an account as it sounds.